« We are in a grey area where the more you keep quiet, the more you are more consensual, the more people like you and you sell ! »
What’s Andrea Crews ?
Andrea Crews began in 2002 at the Palais de Tokyo, as a performance of upcycling of second hand clothes and acted as a collective of artists, in art centers. Today, we are in 2015 and Andrea Crews is rather a fashion brand that has been developping for 2 seasons, with a large menswear collection. It has two faces, and now we begin a new season of the show. It is Episode 2 of the new season. We show during Men fashion week and we redefined the fundamentals which before was more unisex, graphic, sculptural. Now the collection is more ready-to-wear but with a redefinition of the man of the future. We still create womanswear but through menswear. The dresses are first put on guys to experiment then designed for women.
Why did you suddenly turn to menswear ?
We were making menswear and womenswear at the same time and at one point, we decided to separate for more visibility. The second reason is the pace of fashion weeks. The menswear season is before womanswear and match with the pre-collection so this allows us to do both and opens periods of visibility and sales. Men fashion week is less crowded. There is more space for creativity and it has a more arty audience. And creating men clothes is much more exciting. If we feel that everything has been done in womanswear, everything remains to be done in menswear. And finally, now we do men show and I have to cast men model and it is much more fun and sexy that women casting. At least we have fun.
Tell us about your background ?
I graduated in art. So Andrea Crews has been designed as a fashion project : fashion/ art / activism. If today, the brand becomes more about fashion, I still have this new project : I am the creative director of this new art space called Le Coeur. It is a project space, next to the shop, at 83, rue de Turenne. We arrange exhibitions. We did a contemporary ceramic exhibition and after a croc love clairvoyance evening. Croc love is a dating agency and we also invited a psychic.
So you’ve also created a dating agency ?
It was a text-dating agency and I am the doorman so I can pretend I’m interesting in and I can meet guys and say "hello you're beautiful, have you a girlfriend, will you walk for my next show ? ". I can meet and talk to people and that’s what I like to do.
Do you manage this project by yourself ?
My partner is Séverinne Reudon who owns the communications agency Artdicted and Charlotte Ardon who now runs the place. I’m only the creative director. The first project was called “The celebration around contemporary ceramics” and the next big project is a spa exhibition held between March 20 and April 30. This will be an exhibition about the welfare, created by artists, with spaces to experience the body, its limitations and its transcendence and we will do yoga and singing meditation classes.
Do you need to have multiple projects simultaneously ?
It is not important, I’ve just lots of ideas and in general, I like to see them through. I'd rather occasionally have fewer projects to hang out more but it's okay.
Have you always wanted to have your own brand ?
I started launching my own project so I didn't even question why, that’s just happened. However, in the draft Andrea Crews, we have worked with many other brands : Nike, Uniqlo, Opel, My Little Pony, Eastpak, Vans, streetwear brands that fit us. Street I'm not sure what it means but we’re pretty street and lifestyle in the sense that we do everything in an urban, arty, shifted way.
We talk about collective, when we talk about Andrea Crews. Who is behind this group ?
The brand is not a collective, it is a brand that have to work. Anji Dinh-Van is the collection director and next to this, we have a team that constitutes a brand. The collective was more when we launched the project, so where I'm from. Now, we are preparing a kimono draft in Japan and then I’ll try to take with me people who come out a bit of the hierarchical structure of the company.
Is the original team still there ? Was the Art projects stopped ?
Now that I have Le Coeur, I have 10 times more drafts. Everything is done organically. We didn’t stop any projects. There was, at one time, the issue of the brand development so we focused on that. This year, I have already been offered 2 large projects, in addition to what we do with Le Coeur. Andrea Crews continue to exist but as a brand. The projects lie outside the scope of a pure creation of collection. During our last show, the dancer Ylva Falk was clearly a performance for example. These are artistic inputs that is inserted.
But still under the name Andrea Crews ?
Maroussia Rebecq, is the creative director of Le Coeur and Andrea Crews. It should be clarified.
And activism ?
Activism was in Andrea Crews’ DNA as there was a strong reflection on consumption, the work as a group, the impact of the clothes and the look on people, what message you send when you walk in street. There is a reflection on that, which was formalized with the performances or actions. Now, we are a company with values that we do not put forward. There was the upcylcled side, which we promoted a lot in 2002. Then, there was greenwashing. Everyone wanted to make ecological and ethical clothes. It is a personal grub. You can do many things but you do not have to use it as a selling point. So Andrea Crews is it still activist ? We have just opened a gallery in Le Marais, with great projects. Our business is quite horizontally managed. It creates jobs. The activism was very strong, and 12 years later we find our values in the way we do things. It's like a new man outfit. I do not want to follow trends. I want to get ahead, be innovative and offer happy values.
No need to be in the street with a placard. Is it important for you to have this part in your claim action ?
It's a part of who I am and it's one of our strengths and our particularity. When one wears a garment Andrea Crews, you wear a story and values. You're not necessarily in the street with a placard but you wear something.
Want to leave a written record ?
It's an exceptional and avant-garde story. We released a book for our 10 year anniversary and it is an example of the creation of the 2000s.
What is the target ?
Very Asian. Wearing Andrea Crews clothes (graphic, street, super colorful) is not something very Parisian. In Paris, our customers are both young teen fashionistas and ladies of the art world who want to have original clothes. This is a fairly large target even if it is still streetwear. And the new men collection is even more man that way.
What were your biggest challenge in launching your brand or taking a turn more fashion ?
The hardest part is the rhythm of fashion industry. We show in January. So we had to create and then you have to sell, produce, recreate and show again in June. There is a lack of time. Always chasing after time.
Hard to have time to be fertile enough or hard to have the time to produce ?
Ideas are not a problem but formalizing, working with suppliers, the fact that they have to deliver at the right time, with good quality.
There are more seasons, too many collections and less creativity...
Yes, there is the problem of doing too much. But that is another problem: it tends to be the same people, again and again, who does everything and the brands are afraid to find somebody else to expand their creativity. The time is not for creativity. We are in a grey area where the more you keep quiet, the more you are more consensual, the more people like you and you sell !
Don’t you think it changes ?
There are many more new brands but young people are trying to attract attention do and get hired by a big companys.
Do you find that there are too many people in the market ? There is a new fashion jet set and everyone wants to do this ?
Again, it tends to be the same people that do everything ! We started with a strong and very off-trend draft and now we decided to fit into trends because when you're out, you're still out. So we got in the Calendar (modeaparis.com).
Did something changed after your beginning in the Calendar ?
You suddenly exist. We existed but we exist more. People need to be aware of your exsitence, you need to be considered. I did not have any problem to exist but I have seen the difference. People love us because we ar making fashion for young people but it is ironic because young people do not have any money to buy the clothes, especially with our style that do not talk to people who have money. We are in the new streetwear trend, an upcoming market with brands such as Pigalle and Marcelo Burlon. We try to exist next to big guys like that.
Difficult to make its way and therefore being famous. Is social networking important for you ?
I was one of the first on MySpace. I made my first concept albums on social networks. I am clearly Generation social networks. I'm doing it very instinctively and maybe not enough in a strategic or marketing way but it fits our brand. These are my wishes. It is a mixture of me and my privacy or that I give my creativity. It is a natural tool for me. I stay updated on new trends and I show mine.
Did you plan to develop womenswear to even up menswear ?
From a creative point of view, man is more really interesting. But I also love wearing my own clothes ! This is the cool part of our business. I have a degree in art and I first worked as a stylist, then I had the idea of transforming the clothes so I put up workshops and learned to sew but I don’t have any patience. Now, we have separated the fashion from the art because if we do fashion, we need to do it right, according to the rules.
Interview by Aurore Hennion.
Photo Yulya Shadrinsky.